Saturday, June 22, 2013

"... cases may arise where existential analysis is called upon to make a person capable of suffering—whereas psychoanalysis, for instance, aims only at making him capable of pleasure or capable of doing. For there are situations in which man can fulfill himself only in genuine suffering, and in no other way."

Victor E. Frankl, The Doctor and the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy

I happened to re-read some portions of Victor Frankl's The Doctor and the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy recently. Despite the flaws of the book, it appears to me that Frankl makes a convincing case that the realization of values is always a possibility, and that meaning in life (not referring to the grand meaning of life) is generated by the realization of values. These values can be creative, experiential and attitudinal. These values remain within our reach even during the darkest moments, and sometimes it is in the darkest moments than an individual is able to generate some semblance of meaning in his life. Frankl, however, doesn't stop here and further maintains that we are obliged to realize these values. It is with regards to this notion of obligation that I remain unpersuaded. I may have missed it but I didn't see any argument regarding the validity of this obligation; it was only asserted, though quite emphatically.

How would a nihilist respond to the assertion that the genesis of meaning is always a possibility, at the very least through attitudinal values, even amidst great suffering? Ideally a nihilist would deny this possibility in the first place, but I am sufficiently convinced by Frankl that it is a possibility. With hands so tied up, is an answer still possible? A nihilist may undermine the validity of the attitudinal value, viewing it as a comfortable delusion (phenomenologically valid, but metaphysically unreal). He may argue that it ultimately accomplishes nothing: so what if an individual died believing that his suffering was meaningful? It doesn't change the fact that he still suffered and still died. Frankl may retort that if one is to suffer, why not suffer meaningfully, if it is possible to do so. A nihilist may reply that one may pursue such a course, but there is no obligation to do so, especially when one views such an attitude to be ultimately futile. 

To the person who has already realized attitudinal values, there is no sense of futility. But to a nihilist, who has not realized any such value, and refuses to do so even when the possibility is acknowledged, I see nothing that may oblige him to do so or make him view the attitude as worthwhile.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"In fact love is only one of the possible ways to fill life with meaning, and it is not even the best way. Our existence would have come to a sad pass and our lives would be poor indeed if their meaning depended upon whether or not we experienced happiness in love."

Viktor E. Frankl, The Doctor and the Soul

Monday, June 17, 2013

"Powers compares Gaga to the artist Cindy Sherman:  both draw our attention to the extent to which being a woman is a matter of artifice, of artful self-presentation....

Lady Gaga and her shotgun companions should not be seen as barreling down the road of bad faith.   But neither are they living in a world in which their acts of self-expression or self-empowerment are distinguishable, even in theory, from acts of self-objectification."

Nancy Bauer, Lady Power

Friday, June 7, 2013

As most people know by now, Google Reader will shut down on July 1, 2013. A reminder to all my subscribers on Google Reader that this is high time to shift to an alternative service, such as Feedly, or subscribe via email. Thank you.

Something that I remind myself of on almost a daily basis:

"Efficient contact with reality: not too little; not too much." Listed as one of the characteristics of mental health in Oxford Handbook of Clinical Specialties.

The happiness that we have in our individual lives, we bring to our relationships.

A relationship generates some of its own happiness (or pain) as well, but ultimately it's the individual happiness that sustains it. 

If the joy in your life is parasitic on your relationship, the relationship will soon be depleted of its joy.


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